Mahisha & Durga - how good overcame evil
This is a story of the Hindu gods of India. It is 1,500 years old. In Hinduism, just like in Greek, Roman or Icelandic stories, there are many gods. There’s 3 main gods and 3 main goddesses. The gods are Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Shiva the Destroyer;. The goddesses are Saraswati who oversees knowledge, music, art, wisdom and learning; Lakshmi who oversees wealth, and Parvati, goddess of fertility, love and the strength of the gods.
Once upon a time a long long time ago there was a demon called Mahisha Asura. His father had been a demon kind and his mother had been a princess who had been turned into a buffalo. Mahisha could be a human, a buffalo or in fact any creature he chose. He was a shape-shifter!
Because he was a demon he didn't really have any good qualities at all. Instead of thoughtful, he was selfish. Instead of kind, he was mean. Instead of generous, he was greedy. And instead of peaceful, he was warlike, and loved nothing more than lots and lots of upset.
But for a time, he prayed and prayed to Brahma The Creator and Brahma was pleased and offered Mahisha a blessing, called a boon.
“Tell me, Mahisha,” sighed Brahma, “what is it you want?”
“I want to live forever,” said Mahisha.
“You can’t live forever,” said Brahma. “You're half-human. That means that one day, you have to die. Only gods can live forever."
“Oh, go on,” said Mahisha. “Please!”
“No no no!” insisted Brahma. “Men cannot live forever.”
“How about…." said Mahisha, like someone trying to persuade their parents to give them some sweeties, “How about you let me live forever unless a woman kills me?”
“A woman?” Said Brahma. “Hmm. Let me think. That’s 52 per cent of the world, a little more than half…Ok, ok, stop whinging. You can live forever unless a woman kills you.”
“Woo hoo!” said Mahisha and ran back to the underworld to tell all his demon friends what he had got. He thought that there was no way a woman could ever kill him.
“Guess what?” he yelled at his friends, “Guess what? The gods cannot hurt me! I am invincible!” And he told them what had happened. “Now let's start a war,” he said, “take over the earth, and have it for ourselves.”
So the demons stormed onto the earth and got rid of all the humans they didn't like. Like rowdy teenagers at a party they haven't been invited to, they totally made a horrible mess of the planet. They ruined the rivers, they demolished the forests, they tormented the poor and the rich equally. They didn't take care of one single thing.
But after a while, the demons got bored. Earth was a pig sty. A mess. A slum. It was as bad as a Year 3’s bedroom on a Sunday afternoon. Yes, it was that bad.
“This place is a dump,” said Mahisha. “Yep,” said the demons.
“I deserve better,” said Mahisha. “Yep,” said the demons.
“Let's take go and take over the heavens,” he said, and they gasped. “Don't forget,” said Mahisha. “I'm invincible!”
And the demons all laughed and grabbed their vicious weapons and headed skywards, to mess up the heavens.
Brahma and all the gods saw what Mahisha and the demons were up. They had been dreading this day for some time. So they got on their magical vehicles, ready for battle. Brahma had his flying swan-chariot. Vishnu had his flying eagle. And Shiva had his wise bull.
When the demon army arrived, Indra the storm god threw his magic diamond rain thunderbolt at them, but they the demons all turned themselves into buffalos and just charged at the gods with their horns.
So the gods decided to head to the mountains to have a think, and let the demons tire themselves out. “Oh goodness,” said Indra. “How can good possibly fight evil, when evil will do bad things that we won’t? Why on earth did you make him invincible, Brahma?”
“I've just remembered!” said Brahma and all the gods turned to look at him.
“You've just remembered what?” they said.
“Well. He's not actually invincible.”
“No. You see, a woman can kill him.”
“Why didn't you say so?!” yelled all the gods.
“She’d have to be a pretty amazing woman, though, to fight all those demons and get to Mahisha and then kill him.”
“All women are pretty amazing!” said Parvati, the goddess of strength. “We just need one woman who’s stronger than all others. We need the Mother of the Universe!”
“Yes, yes, yes! It's time for the Mother of the Universe! She can stop Mahisha!” cried the gods all together.
So Brahma, Indra and Vishnu opened their mouths and out of their mouths streamed so much light that it would blind you or me. And out of that light came DURGA, the Mother of the Universe. She shone as bright as a million suns - more than all the Suns in the universe. And she had not one, not five, not tens, not hundreds but thousands of arms. She was bright, and powerful and strong and she was Durga.
All the gods gave Durga their weapons: a trident, a mace, a hook, a sword, a bow and arrows, a discus, an axe, a snake...until Durga was fully armed… Vayhu, god of the wind gave her his arrows, Yama, god of death gave her a rope, and Himavat the god of the mountains gave her a lion to ride into battle. Durga smiled. And then she roared. She was going to save the heavens and the earth from the great evil. The earth shook with her roar and she smiled again.
Durga rode to the top of the highest mountain. She looked around and waited until Mahisha came into sight. When she saw him come with his army she took a deep breath and with that single breath, she created a whole army of her own warriors. And every single one of those warrior women was as powerful and brave as Durga herself.
So Mahisha and his army went into battle with Durga and hers. It felt to Mahisha that the battle would never end. He knew that his army was bring destroyed. Finally it was time for him to face Durga alone. This was the final battle.
Mahisha turned himself into a buffalo and charged at the lion that Durga was sitting on. So Durga threw her rope around the buffalo demon’s neck. But just as she did, Mahisha turned himself from a buffalo into an elephant. He used his trunk to trip up the lion, so Durga might fall to the ground. But Durga would not fall. Then he turned himself from an elephant into a lion. Then back into a buffalo but still he could not beat Durga. Then suddenly, in the blink of an eye, Durga and her lion brought Mahisha to the ground and he was destroyed.
The gods were delighted and relieved. “Thank you, Durga, thank you.”
“Go in peace," said Durga, “You have a lot of tidying up to do,” she said, looking at the mess all around them. “You need to make the earth a better place,” she said. And you know what? That’s exactly what they did.